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DACA Supporters in Central Florida Denounce End to Program

Photo: Fernando Narro.
Ahtziry Barrera, a DACA beneficiary and student at Rollins College, joins advocates to denounce the decision to end DACA. Photo: Fernando Narro.

Activists and immigration advocates from more than fifteen organizations gathered outside Orlando City Hall Tuesday afternoon in the heat to denounce the federal government’s decision to end DACA.

The decision by the Trump administration gives U.S. Congress a six-month window to enact legislation to protect DACA beneficiaries, known as Dreamers.

Should Congress fail to act, Dreamers' legal status will be lost on March 5, 2018.

The Florida Immigration Coalition and Hope Community Center are urging people to call their representatives in Congress to express their support for the DREAM Act.

“We need every one of our Congressmen, we need you to call your members of Congress," said Isabel Sousa-Rodriguez, Membership Director for the Florida Immigration Coalition. "Call your senators. Tell them to co-sponsor the DREAM Act, we must pass the DREAM Act before these DACA permits expire."

More than 800,000 people nationwide are beneficiaries of the Obama-era executive order that protects undocumented immigrants that came into the United States as children from deportation. The Department of Homeland Security reported 50,216 DACA beneficiaries in Florida in 2016.

Ahtziry Barrera, who is currently pursuing her studies at Rollins College, is one of them.

“I’ve been here since I was four years old," she said. "The only country I remember pledging allegiance to is the United States of America, and I’m going to continue to do that. Before DACA I worked hard, and after DACA I’m going to continue to work hard.”

This is the latest setback in a years-long push for immigration reform. Tuesday's rally was one of several that took place across Florida.

“We’re not going to let it go. We’re going to fight until the end,” said Ann Kendrick, director of community relations at Hope Community Center. “We’ve been struggling with this stuff for forty years. We’re not quitting now.”